Keeping your fruit and vegies fresh in the fridge

Two is better than one when it comes to the humble crisper.

Fresh and green

The crispers in your fridge are designed to store fruit and vegetables – the closed drawers keep in some humidity, which keeps some items fresh for longer. But fruit and vegies don't all ripen at the same rate. Some require more humidity than others, and some are more sensitive to the cold; some don't require refrigeration at all, and some only in the later stages of ripening. It's no wonder there's confusion about how to best store fruit and vegies in the crisper!

It's all about 'ethylene'

Fruits and vegetables release the natural ripening gas ethylene at different volumes and rates in their ripening stages, and they react differently to the gas as well – ripening slower or faster depending on the rate and volume of ethylene in the surrounds.

Cherries and blueberries don't release much ethylene and don't react much, whereas apples and pears release greater volumes at later stages of ripening. Lettuce is quite sensitive to ethylene, so you wouldn't want to store lettuce with pears and apples in the fridge. If you have well-ripened or spoiled fruit or vegetables, don't store them with the others - they can trigger rapid ripening or spoilage in other fruit and vegies.

That's why having two crispers in your fridge can be an advantage, as you can store certain fruits and vegetables separately. Some crispers also have humidity controls which claim to control the amount of moisture in the crisper.

We've put together the below table of the different behaviours and reactions of various common fruits and vegetables.

Fresh food table
Refrigerated Humidity needed Ethylene produced Ethylene sensitivity Temperature (°C)
Apricot Low High High 0
Asparagus High Very low Medium 2
Avocado Low High High 7
Blueberry High Low Low 0
Broccoli High Very low High 0
Cabbage High Very low High 0
Capsicum High Low Low 5
Carrot High Very low Low 0
Cauliflower High Very low High 0
Celery High Very low Medium 0
Cherry High Very low Low 0
Corn High Very low Low 0
Cucumber High Low High 10
Eggplant High Low Low 10
Green beans High Low Medium 7
Kale High Very low Medium 0
Leeks High Very low Medium 0
Lettuce (iceberg) High Very low High 0
Nectarine Low High High 0
Peach Low High High 0
Pear Low High High -2–0
Peas High Very low Medium 0
Plum Low Medium High 0
Spinach High Very low High 0
Strawberry High Low Low 0
Zucchini High High High 5

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